Prepared?

Happy Thursday!

Although the week isn’t over yet, our weekend begins tonight. Several friends and I are headed to the Amalfi Coast to visit Positano, Capri and Pompeii! Fortunately, my academic schedule worked out so I have class Monday-Wednesday. My schedule looks like this…

Monday-

9-10.15 The Holocaust: Jewish and Christian Responses

3-4.15 Italian

Tuesday-

3-5.30 War and Media

6-8.30 Body Language and Communication Techniques

Wednesday

9-10.15 The Holocaust: Jewish and Christian Responses

12-2.30 Mediterranean Cuisine

3-4.15 Italian

I’m enjoying all my courses so far, but am particularly excited about my body language and Mediterranean cuisine courses. Those are courses I wouldn’t necessarily have had the opportunity to take at Salve Regina, so I feel very fortunate!

Back in Oxford I remember how overwhelming classes were the first week, as we were all just settling into a new country. However, with that knowledge, here in Italy I focused more on prepping for my courses than planning weekend trips. I know that focus will shift from week to week, but the first week it’s important to switch over to school mode after a summer of working.

Speaking of Oxford, although it was fantastic preparation for this trip, there are some huge differences between my experience there and my experience so far here. For instance…

-I’m laughing at myself for thinking the slight differences between English in England and English in the United States were confusing. The language barrier here, despite many bilingual Florentines, is something I didn’t prepare myself for enough! Whether you’re at the post office attempting to speak with a teller about exchanging money or trying to order a panini, blank stares are common and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Being polite is essential, but I couldn’t be too hard on myself the first week. I promised the poor Florentines I encountered that I would be starting Italian lessons soon.

-Oxford was rural compared to the streets of Florence! I didn’t prepare myself for many aspects of city life. Our apartment has not one, but four locks to get inside, something I’m not accustomed to back in Rhode Island, much less Maine. Also, as previously mentioned in my post last week, the streets are hectic and incredibly packed!!! Dodging tourists, other study abroad kids, disgruntled locals, vendors trying to sell counterfeit goods and vespas is crazy! Pedestrians definitely do not have the right of way. Oh, and people wear their backpacks backwards to avoid pickpocketers (sp?)!

-I’ll end with a positive difference! The food in Oxford was not fabulous and was mostly bland. The food here is incredible. I have eaten a ridiculous amount of fresh apricot, grapes, tomatoes, pesto, burrata, mozzarella, balsamic vinegar and even found some peanut butter! Also, our apartment now has fresh rosemary, basil and mint plants! I am in absolute food heaven here. Hopefully in my Mediterranean cuisine class I will learn more about the preparation of local, seasonal produce and nutrition!

I am thankful for the preparation Oxford provided me for studying in Europe in general, however I discover new differences every day that make me appreciate how unique different study abroad opportunities can be for different students in different places.

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